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Never Settle, it may be the tagline of the One Plus Brand but has always been a core principle that I adhere to, a belief that I am good and I will get what is good and never settle for anything less. If there is a fight for getting to good, I will fight. This core principle comes from my early school life, Our school like every other school has four houses.

St. Georges’ House with the motto, ‘In Honour Bound’.

St. Andrews’ House with the motto, ‘In Honour Alone’.

St. Patricks’ House with the motto, ‘Fight the good Fight’.

St. Francis’ House with the motto, ‘Perseverance conquers all’.

These principles are essential to any personal story I tell. My attitude when I first started my preparation for any entrance exam is to gain knowledge, to know more, that is who I am as a person, always hunting for more. When my CAT prep started (for CAT 2018), I had about 4 months for it. Mathematics was my home ground, and I was pretty comfortable with it (I have my B.Sc. in Mathematics), I read decently back then, but my VARC scores were still on the lower end of the scale (25-33 range), it wasn’t encouraging, but to quote Albert Einstein, “In the midst of difficulty lies opportunity”. For me the opportunity was very simple. To expand my knowledge. I didn’t have much time, but that’s the beauty of YouTube isn’t it? You can get introduced to almost anything within minutes. I started exploring and reading, and still it didn’t help me that much, my range shifted slowly. “Help will always be given at Hogwarts, Harry, to those who ask for it”. I wasn’t at Hogwarts but that didn’t mean I couldn’t ask for help, I was lucky to have one of the best Mentors who just told me a flaw in my strategy, I was majorly going for RC’s and doing the VA part only which I knew. He told me how do you even expect to score high if you carry on what you’re doing, next mock try attempting everything! Everything? My immediate reaction was that it is tough! But, none the less, my mentor has more 99.9+ percentiles than I do, so I went ahead with what his advice only to score a 20 in the next mock. It gets tiring at that very moment, but what helped me was that I had a broader image with my CAT goal which was to have much more knowledge and that helped me to get back to reading more and practicing more VA. VA is cruel, but from what I experienced, it gets better with practice! about one month left for the exam I was scoring 50+.

Logical Reasoning was tricky. I used to take a puzzle and get invested in it, it solves good enough otherwise it was 3 pages of cancelled work. One of my first interactions with my mentor, he told me to solve as many puzzles as possible and not to discriminate any puzzle. If it’s a puzzle, you solve it. Sudoku and Minesweeper, the only two I knew, I started with them, and I don’t know but they helped but they did, and you have an app for everything! My major work was on my online portal, Topic and Sectional tests were my best friends when it came to LR. If I couldn’t solve one, I used to solve with the solution. I could not solve a lot of LR sets in my CAT 2018 prep, but it was quality vs quantity. Quant was a challenge, my mentor told me to start solving questions mentally and I tried doing very much that.

Two long paragraphs on the preparation, you maybe expecting a 99+ percentile in this one but I got a 97.84 in that attempt. It wasn’t bad, but for someone who was so confident about himself that he just ticked A,B,C,L,K,I while filling the form, this was not sufficient. I got a call from IIM K only that year. Onto my interview phase, It has been two years to that Interview phase and when I reflect back to it, there was a mistake that I made then and even this time I was making that same mistake but caught on early and improved. The mistake was taking more advice than introspecting, asking others questions what to do and what not to do rather than asking those questions from myself. See, everyone has a checklist and they will tell you their checklist, but it is their  checklist, not yours, and everyone will have a different one, and with all these different checklists with different points you will not know what to do and it is very easy to get frustrated and just go with whatever you manage to scrape through. I went very under confident in my interview, having focused on other people’s checklist and that is where I failed. They caught me off-guard and it was one of the most humiliating interviews of my life.

Heartbreak, nothing short of it. For the two weeks, I was in a personal hell, A personal Azkaban if you are a potterhead. It’s difficult to pull yourself out of it, but “I was in Honour bound and Honour Alone with a firm belief that perseverance conquers all if you fight the good fight!.” So I couldn’t give up, I couldn’t allow myself to. I joined my Mentor and started teaching because it was something I enjoyed and I was confident that I would grow under him. I had another moment of difficulty but it was the same opportunity, to learn more. I kept at it, only to get a 95.99% in CAT 2019. What didn’t work? It’s hard to admit but there were other struggles, one of them was the classic, good old self- doubt. There was a pressure to do better, and it consumed me only to screw up things that’s I was good at, and that’s when I learned the beauty of yourself and your principles, my principles did not allow me to give up, yet again. It was the same cycle. The bottom line was that the fight that I was fighting was good, I was doing honest work with my mentor, I was helping others and I would not settle for anything less. fast forward to now, 2020, 99.48 percentile, I learned from my mistakes, made my own list, banged my head on two questions; 1) Tell me something about yourself; 2) Why should we select you?

A gist of those answers, “A stubborn kid who never settles for anything less, and picks himself up whenever he falls, no matter how bad the fall is.”

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